KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 -- Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (left) having a discussion with High Representative of European Union for Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini during a bilateral meeting on the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (48th AMM) here, today. --fotoBERNAMA (2015)

Federica Mogherini with Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman during a bilateral meeting during the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, 5 August 2015. Copyright Commons photo courtesy of Bernama

Federica Mogherini,  High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, indicated EU interest in forging stronger links with East Asia as she travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the 5-6 August ASEAN Regional Forum’s (ARF) annual ministerial meeting.

Mogherini co-chaired the meeting together with Vietnam, and held various bilateral meetings, including one with Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (pictured).

The ARF Ministerial remains the main opportunity in the region for multilateral debates on pressing security challenges in the Asia Pacific, EU officials say. It brings all the relevant players around ASEAN and its 10 member states together: the US, China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Russia, India, Australia and the EU plus many others. In fact, EU officials point out, this is the greatest coming together of regional foreign affairs ministers outside the UN General Assembly.

The ASEAN-EU ‘Post Ministerial Conference’ is the moment when ASEAN briefs the EU  on the outcome of the just-concluded ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and is a good opportunity to review the overall state of the EU-ASEAN relationship and to discuss its future direction, EU officials say.

At both multilateral meetings, Mogherini marked EU’s wish for a more ambitious, security-based and political region-to-region partnership. ASEAN ministers welcomed EU’s overall strategy to step up its cooperation with ASEAN on basis of the EU May Joint Communication ‘The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose’ and the June conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council.

Mogherini also emphasised EU’s enduring engagement in and with Asian partners on regional security challenges such as the South China Sea dispute, the Korean Peninsula, trans-national crime, counter-terrorism, but evenly on overall regional maritime security and preventive diplomacy.

In addition, the Ministers exchanged views on pressing international issues including Iran and Ukraine. Several ministers, at the PMC and bilaterally, congratulated Mogherini and praised EU’s role in the recent nuclear agreements with Iran.

In the margins of these multilateral meetings, the HRVP took the opportunity to also meet bilaterally with several ASEAN foreign ministers and ministers from outside the region.